For a long time, network television has offered slim pickings in terms of teen-centric dramas. Netflix, on the other hand, has become a one-stop shop for young adult fare. It’s proven that shows featuring teens were worthy of attention, not just from teens themselves, but from everyone: After all, Stranger Things, for all its interdimensional monsters, is very much a series about young adults coming of age.
Now, Netflix brings us The Innocents, which features not just teens, but teens in love. The Romeo & Juliet-esque romance at the center of The Innocents may have a big sci-fi element, but mostly, the series is focused on how these two crazy kids will make their relationship work against all odds. It also asks a huge question that’s relatable not just to teens, but to all of us: What is love, if not being seen for who we really are? The fact that the 16-year-old girl at the center of this show is also a shapeshifter really complicates matters on that front.
Without further ado, let’s get binging.
You’re not going to “get” a lot of what’s going on in the first episode of The Innocents. It’s not so much a pilot as it is an episode that lays the most basic groundwork possible for the story to come. The best way to absorb it is to take it as face value, then follow the breadcrumbs into the next episode and beyond.
We open on a bearded man running through a field, towards a cliff. On his heels is Halverson (Guy Pearce), trying to thwart what appears to be a suicide mission.
“Please don’t do this,” Halverson begs as the bearded man stares down into the rocks and water below. Halverson doesn’t give the man much time to think through his decision to end his life — he tackles him to the ground instead.
Halverson and the bearded man speak to one another, a wall of glass between them. Behind Halverson is a third person. A closer look at that person (wearing all white, like he’s in some sort of very generic cult) reveals that he is the bearded man... or at least a copy of him. This version of the bearded man’s eyes are open and darting back and forth, almost as if they are vibrating.
It’s already very confusing.
The scene carries on without any real clarification. Instead, we’re treated to another deliciously cryptic conversation between Halverson and this bearded man. Halverson can’t believe that the bearded man would “leave” like that. The man gets honest: His decision, while, “reckless,” stemmed from the fact that a certain someone is coming to stay. He just can’t deal with that, not after everything he’s “lost.” He is, however, quite remorseful. Suicide, after all, would have killed them “both.”
That’s when we see the man’s reflection. It’s not the bearded man staring back, but a woman with short blonde hair.
Halverson reminds the man (or is it really the blonde woman?) that they must help other women, including the girl — “June.” They must continue to build their “new family.” A family of people with this same strange power of jumping into other bodies? Probably. We know that something supernatural is going on here, but what exactly that is — well, we’ll have to keep watching to find out.
The Innocents has no interest in spoon-feeding you information, thank you very much.
The episode quickly shifts gears to “teen romance.” High schoolers June (Sorcha Groundsell) and Harry (Percelle Ascott) are two crazy kids in love. They are also both under their parents’ thumbs, albeit in different ways. June is supposed to move somewhere off the grid with her overbearing father John (Sam Hazeldine) much to the anger of her brother Ryan (Arthur Hughes), who suffers from agoraphobia. Ryan (who notes that John isn’t even really their father) encourages June to take off with boyfriend Harry instead, even giving June money for the journey.
Harry, meanwhile, has a more loving relationship with his own father, who suffers from what appears to be dementia. Harry tearfully tells his dad goodbye, but his dad does not recognize him.
Meanwhile, we catch back up with Halverson, and we see a little bit more of what we can assume is this “new family” the bearded man spoke of in the first scene.
A woman, Elena (Laura Birn) airs her grievances to her friend/fellow commune member Sigrid (Lise Risom Olsen). This Elena, we soon piece together, is June’s long-missing mom, thus neatly tying together two seemingly random storylines.
Elena is unhappy in her new home — “All we do is work here.” (Halverson is no stranger to work, by the way. He’s skinning a rabbit, a little too casually, in the background. If you didn’t suspect Halverson may be a psychopath, which of course you already did, the series wants you to at least consider the theory.) Elena explains to Sigrid that she has “another test” coming up, but she still barely knows anything about the place she now calls home… and Sigrid won’t fill her in on any details. She goes quiet when the blonde woman from the first scene, the one we only saw in the mirror, comes up to the women. This is Runa (Ingunn Beate Øyen), and she reminds the women that the commune doesn’t have secrets. Also, speak English.
Harry and June take off in the middle of the night, the day before June’s 16th birthday. However, on the road, two men stop them, claiming to need assistance. One of them is the bearded man, whom we now know is Steinar (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson). As Harry is distracted helping the other man, Alf, with “car trouble,” Steinar tries to tell June that he has a message from her mother, Elena. Just, you know, get in the van and you can hear it, he says.
June is obviously suspicious, because Steinar looks like a Survivor contestant on week eight of the show, and also, she’s 16 and he’s a man trying to get her in his van. Steinar, not understanding how he’s coming across here, grows impatient. “I’m trying to help you,” Steinar cries, not realizing that teen girls have long been warned about men in vans.
Harry sees that June is in trouble and attacks Steinar with a crowbar. June escapes, but Harry has seemingly killed Steinar in the process. June freaks out. She and Harry move the body into the woods, then head back to a motel to get some rest.
Of course, June can’t sleep — they just killed a guy, even if it was in self-defense. So, she goes back to the woods to make sure that the guy is really dead. (Or, maybe, make sure he’s actually perfectly fine and alive.) When she gets to the body, something bizarre happens. We just don’t see it.
June screams, and soon we see Steinar, staggering out of the woods, and into a gas station bathroom. The women’s bathroom.
Then there’s a knock on the motel room door. Harry opens it to find Steinar standing before him. Steinar tells Harry not to be afraid, but of course, Harry is very much afraid. He’s also appropriately angry. He thinks Steinar hurt June, who is now missing.
Steinar attempts to explain the truth, to no avail. After a brief altercation, Steinar puts Harry in a headlock and drags him to the bathroom. Staring back at Harry in the mirror isn’t Steinar, but June, whose own body is... somewhere. Will she ever be able to get it back?
June isn’t exactly thrilled about being in Steinar’s body, and Harry’s not digging June’s new look, either. But before the two can freak out for too long about their bizarre ordeal, June, after being calmed down by Harry, shapeshifts back into her non-bearded self.
That’s when we finally get an explanation for all that shapeshifting. It’s not that June swapped bodies with anyone — she merely assumed Steinar’s image. The reason she was wearing Steinar’s clothes was because hers ripped off during the transition process.
So here’s what I have gathered, based on the limited information The Innocents has told us thus far about June’s abilities. The original body and the shape-shifted “copy” of the body can exist at the same time, but while the copy exists, the original body is in a pseudo-comatose state. So, there can be two Steinars in existence, but only one can walk around and speak.
What June finds in Steinar’s pocket (she stole his clothes, remember?) opens up a whole world of possibilities. That video Steinar said he had of Elena, June’s mother? Steinar wasn’t lying. It was on a recorder in Steinar’s pocket. According to the video, Steinar was sent by Elena to take care of June, and, according to Elena, June can really can trust him.
But should we? If Elena and Steinar are with Halverson, maybe not. Back at the commune, Halverson performs what looks like an incredibly painful experiment on Elena, one in which he can “see” her thoughts. It does not look fun (she’s tied to a chair, with wires connected to her head) and whatever the results of the test are, they deeply confuse Halverson.
It’s hard to get a read on Halverson. Is he a mad scientist, or someone actually trying to help the people on his commune? I’m not sure, but the “rules” that he and his partner Runa impose (like only speaking English, as opposed to whatever one’s native tongue is) are oddly controlling. Also, their home is called the Sanctum, and everyone dresses like they decided on “agricultural cult member” as this year’s Halloween costume theme.
Since June is no longer using Steinar’s image, the real Steinar embarks on his quest to find out where the heck June ran off to. He and his partner in this journey, Alf (Trond Fausa), go to June’s home, where they ransack Ryan’s guest house. Ryan, who overhears Alf and Steinar talking about June, is worried about his missing sister. She was supposed to call him after she left on her journey with Harry, but never did.
No one is more worried than June’s father John, who goes to the school to seek out his MIA child. He’s even armed with a crowbar, which he uses to dismantle her locker.
Harry’s mother Christine (Nadine Marshall), a detective, hears about John’s little locker “break-in” and investigates. That’s when the parents realize that their kids have run off with one another.
Christine and her partner Kevin (Kamil Lemieszewski) also investigate a different break-in — one committed by Steinar and Alf. They went to the home of the man who traded Harry a car for Harry’s father’s gold, engraved wedding ring, and beat him to a pulp in order to get information on where Harry and June ran off to. Christine, upon seeing the gold ring on the man’s hand, realizes that Harry might be in deeper shit than she assumed. He really did run away, leaving her to take care of her sickly husband all by himself.
Speaking of Harry’s dad: It seems that something caused his condition. Something that Christine and Kevin still feel guilt over. Hmm.
June and Harry escape to London, and quickly learn that the accommodations they were set up with are less than desirable. As in, they are definitely staying in a drug den. Luckily, Steinar and Alf are on their trail, which makes the teens book it as fast as possible, leaving their bags behind.
Some info we learn in the episode: It turns out that John wasn’t taking his family off the grid solely for his own benefit. He wanted to protect June, or at least stop her from using her shape-shifting power. That also explains the sedatives we saw him mixing into her food earlier.
Who can our “innocents” really trust? Is John trying to do the right thing by June, or should she go off with Steinar to find her mother?
Episode 3 of The Innocents spends far more time focusing on Harry and June than the people searching for them — though Christine, John, and of course Steinar are still in hot pursuit of the couple.
The people searching for Harry and June (their couple name is “Hune,” I just made it up) wake in a play house in a park, where children are literally everywhere. (June is still having troubling dreams, and wakes up asking Harry if she’s still her — which, again, I believe younger viewers might find troubling.)
The pair go to clean themselves up in a public restroom, where they proceed to make out on the sink before a janitor comes in and tells them, essentially: “Gross.”
The couple jaunts off, eventually stumbling across a young man who decides to take them under his wing, or, rather, give them a place to crash on his house boat. It’s a super nice house boat, in that it is full of succulents. There is a catch: When Harry and June wake up, they are informed that they will now need to deal drugs at a nightclub, along with Coachella babe Lil (Olivia Fearn).
Harry and June take this news rather well, actually. They go off to the club looking like celebrities from 2007, sell a bunch of blue pills, and make out on the dance floor. June gets high off her own supply, which is when Lil puts the sexy moves on her. However, in the midst of the sexy dancing, a fight breaks out, causing June stress. That stress leads to (you guessed it!) June assuming Lil’s body. Lil passes out, and June-as-Lil runs to the restroom.
Harry, who at first was not down to hook up with June-as-Lil, has a change of heart. He eventually is able to use his very soothing voice to calm June down. They kiss — and June returns to her normal, redheaded state.
Which makes me wonder — is it Harry who helps June become “June” again? It was only after he and June started playing around that June transformed from Steinar’s body into her own again.
Unfortunately, Lil is rushed off to the hospital, which everyone else assumes is because of the whole “doing drugs” thing. It’s clear that the power that June possesses is, in fact, a danger to those around her. We don’t know if Lil will survive this.
Back at the commune, Halverson’s fascination with Elena causes jealousy with Sigrid, who was supposed to go through another test that Halverson apparently forgot about. Against Halverson’s explicit wishes, Runa informs Elena that, as suspected, June is just like her mother in that she is also a shapeshifter. This upsets Elena greatly, which makes me wonder if that video June watched really was of Elena. Couldn’t it just as likely be a video of someone who shape-shifted into Elena?
My brain hurts.
The opening of this episode gives us a bit of insight into Steinar and Halverson’s relationship. In a flashback, Halverson meets Steinar out at a bar — Halverson was once Steinar’s doctor, and Steinar is grateful to Halverson for saving his life. That doesn’t mean Steinar is quick to believe Halverson’s story, though.
In another flashback, one that takes place within the first, Halverson is called to a mental institution, where his soon-to-be partner Runa is having a full-on breakdown. At least, that’s what the doctors in the hospital think. When Runa flips out as Halverson interviews her, a physician attempts to calm her down — leading to Runa assuming his body.
Back at the bar, Steinar calls bullshit on the story. Halverson begs Steinar to come to the car because he has something to show him. In the car is Halverson’s body, twitching eyes and all. Surprise! It’s not actually Halverson talking to Steinar, but Runa herself.
Since we’re on the topic of Runa and Halverson’s relationship, let’s dig into what else happens between them this episode. In present day, at The Sanctum,” Halverson performs a so-called “session” with Sigrid. She’s hooked up to wires and telling a story about how she stopped her father from having an affair by shapeshifting into his body. It’s actually an incredibly dark and disturbing tale: Not only did she convince her father’s mistress to have an abortion, but, it seems, she also had sex with her own mother. I hated every moment of Sigrid’s story, but Halverson delights in it. He puts her tape in with those documenting her dozens of other sessions.
Sigrid’s goal is to leave the commune — to get well and lead a normal life. I assume what Halverson is doing is helping these women take control of their emotions, the ones that lead to the dangerous shapeshifting.
Runa can’t control her jealousy, especially when Sigrid tells Runa and Halverson that Elena won’t be leaving the Sanctum anytime soon. Elena wants to raise June on the property, something that Halverson is fine with and Runa is definitely not. Runa goes to her bedroom, where she screams at Halverson for his “obsession” with Elena and June. She blames Elena for why they don’t share a bed any more, but Halverson suggests that it actually has more to do with the fact that Runa can’t control her feelings, making her dangerous.
There are a lot of men controlling women in this series, and while I’m not exactly not on Halverson’s side here, it’s worth wondering if The Innocents is trying to say something about that very notion. Either way — doesn’t Halverson know that telling someone to calm down is a surefire way to make sure they won’t? Runa quickly starts to seize, the first sign that she’s ready to shapeshift into someone new.
Speaking of shapeshifters, June and Harry (who looks like Bruno Mars in the club hat he refuses to take off) are at the hospital where Lil was admitted. After an emotional moment, June transforms into a 35-year-old nurse named Debra, much to Harry’s dismay. The teen couple runs off, taking Debra’s car back to her house.
They quickly discover that June has a whole collection of Debra’s memories (she knows the color of the paint on the walls, and the hidden location of her car keys) but there’s something more important that June has inherited from Debra. June-as-Debra is pregnant, which is… incredibly confusing and kind of mind-boggling to think about. June shapeshifted into both mother and baby? How is that a thing?
June starts to “nest” in Debra’s home (she lives alone) and begs Harry to let them stay there, at least for a little bit. No one is looking for Debra, and besides, if they were… that’s who June is, right? They are safe here — and June wants to care for the baby.
Except, that isn’t true at all. Steinar is right on June and Harry’s trail and is completely aware that June is really Debra. Alf, Steinar’s buddy who got roped into this kidnapping mission, has no idea why Steinar believes that Debra is who they are looking for (he thought that they were looking for a teen girl), but when Steinar breaks into Debra’s house and attacks June-as-Debra, Alf draws the line. He and Steinar get into a violent scuffle, and Harry and June get away.
Harry convinces June that she needs to want to return to her body in order to do so. June struggles with this notion, mostly because at least as Debra, she won’t be transforming into anyone else. (At least, as far as we know.) Harry, once again, is able to convince June that she’s worthwhile exactly as she is, and despite her fears telling her to stay in Debra’s body, she returns to original flavor June.
The Innocents spells out what I assumed was an obvious rule of this shapeshifting game: Skin-to-skin contact, under high-stress circumstances, is what triggers the change. Another thing that the show spells out is what June’s dad knew about this whole ordeal, which, as suspected, is everything.
John and Ryan receive a phone call from June, who wants to meet up and talk with them. With Harry by her side, June asks her father about her mother. John insists that he loves June and wanted to protect her, which is why he forbade her from having friends and, yes, put sedatives in her food in order to keep her emotions at bay. Am I crazy to think that, actually, this is not the worst plan in the world? The isolation is incredibly extreme, of course, but turning into a new person every time a situation is stressful does not seem like an easy way to live life.
June, by the way, does not take this conversation very well. She goes into a pre-transformation seizure, but fortunately, no one touches her and therefore she’s able to stay in her own body. She tells her dad she’s not coming home — it’s her and Harry forever now, emphasized once more when the pair have sex for the first time. Harry can see the real June, and that’s very important, considering the premise of the show.
Other people can see June, too — the entire internet, for example. The video of June transforming into Lil has made its way onto a generic YouTube-like website, which we know when a Mysterious New Character (who is rich as hell and loves weed) watches the viral video. He leaves a comment: “I know what this is, and I can help.” Cryptic!
Oh, and speaking of cryptic… Christine, Harry’s mother, may know a little bit more about this body-shifting thing than she thinks she does. After finding the video of Harry running out of the hospital with “Debra,” she searches through files and resurfaces a case of people who went into “waking comas.” Were these people victims of a shapeshifting situation gone sour? Sure seems like it.
Harry and June really need to enact a “No New Friends” policy.
Episode 5 reveals that Harry and June are doing their best to get their life together. They’re living in a hostel while Harry looks for a job. (June, I guess, can’t get a waitress gig just in case she accidentally shifts into a nasty customer.) However, things take a turn when June sees a bunch of people losing their minds over the shapeshifting video taken via security cam at the club. Harry assures her that the internet is full of much weirder videos (and really, doesn’t it kind of look like CGI, anyway?) but it doesn’t alleviate June’s fears that she’ll be found out.
That man we saw in episode 4, watching the club video is named Andrew (Andrew Koji) and June gets in touch with him via the video’s comments section. He says he can help. Harry and June meet Andrew in the National Portrait Gallery, but, as revealed in some shiny glass in the art museum, it’s not actually Andrew at all. Meet Cam (Abigail Hardingham), a wild-and-free shifter who offers June and Harry a place to crash while she gives June lessons in all-things shifting.
Cam is too cool, which makes me nervous. It also makes Harry nervous, which, fair: Cam’s eyes are so big, they have to be full of secrets. One such secret is that she and her lover Andrew, with whom she lives, are really casual about shifting into one another.
Harry is appalled by this, but honestly, Harry’s never been that much fun, anyway. He makes June promise she would never do such a thing to him. Foreshadowing!
Eventually, Harry lightens up a little bit and agrees to join the gang at what is absolutely a sex club. We’re talking Eyes Wide Shut here. (Reminder: Harry and June are 16.) Cam steals June away, and brings her to one of the club’s “private” rooms, where — and I am not exaggerating — a man covered head-to-toe in purple glitter does a very unsexy “sexy dance.” Cam encourages June to shift into him, so she can really feel what it’s like to be in a man’s body, but June refuses. She will, however, put her hand on the man’s chest.
Bad move, though, because when June does, Harry comes bolting into the private room… and literally punches the guy in the face! Poor glitter man. This is just his livelihood!
The whole thing turns June off: Clearly, Cam is a manipulative nightmare, as Andrew hinted to Harry back at the club earlier. Maybe don’t trust every club girl you meet, June? Two episodes ago, you were making out with one on the dance floor.
The next day, June is woken up to Harry — or, at least, who June thinks is Harry. He attempts to have sex with June, until June notes Harry’s reflection in the mirror is actually Cam. Umm, this is literally sexual assault, Cam.
Understandably, June is very pissed. Cam returns to her natural form, saving Harry from a temporary coma. But while June and Harry do leave Cam and Andrew’s apartment, June doesn’t want to leave London. She just spoke to her mom on the phone, who told June that Halverson is coming to rescue her.
Harry then accuses June of being the one to shift into his body, something that June does not deny. (Umm, just deny it, girl! You didn’t do it!) June realizes that Harry might never accept what she really is… so maybe it’s best to just let this relationship die, which, according to Cam, is inevitable anyway.
While all this is happening, Halverson ignores Runa’s protests and decides to make the journey to London. It involves a lot of steps, like taking a boat to another boat. It’s also “hideous poncho weather.” Guess June really is a big deal!
There were quite a few juicy reveals in episode 6 of The Innocents — one I definitely did not expect. Blame a good dye job.
June is in London with Cam while a distraught Harry makes his way back home. There, his mother Christine finally reveals what she’s suspected for a long time: Elena, June’s mother, is to blame for the current condition of his father. Elena was “there” the night Harry’s dad collapsed (in the reflection of a glass panel, at least) and now Christine knows that June was in the hospital as “Debra” the night the nurse fell into her own coma.
Obviously, because Christine has not watched five episodes of The Innocents, she has no idea why June’s face is reflected in the mirror. But she doesn’t need to in order to tell Harry to stay away from June, which he sadly agrees to do.
Harry’s not content with knowing the truth about his dad, though. Harry wants someone to pay. He picks John, who he confronts in a pub for covering for Elena. He nearly takes a swing at his girlfriend’s dad, which causes Ryan to intervene. Unfortunately, this distracts Ryan from his surprising flirtation with the bartender, an old classmate.
Fortunately, John and Harry end up on the very same side by the end of the episode. Unfortunately, it’s because June has finally decided to give Halverson’s method a try. Realizing that she can’t live by Cam’s way of life, and believing that Harry does not want to be with her anymore, June takes Halverson up on his offer to go to Sanctum.
Cam calls Harry and informs him that June just made a grave mistake. Cam knows Halverson, and he’s not as nice a guy as he claims to be. (Halverson also just fired Steinar after officially paying him off for his parents’ property, effectively cutting Steinar out of Sanctum for good.) But how does she know Halverson? While that’s not made explicitly clear, we see in a flashback featuring an icy-blonde Cam that she once knew Runa, quite well. Cam is the daughter that Runa lost!
Poor Runa. While I always assumed that her daughter had died, hence Runa’s intense jealousy over June and Elena, the truth is much more complicated. Did Halverson separate Runa and Cam? And is it true that Runa has early onset dementia, as she confesses to Sigrid and Elena? If so, one can only hope that Cam will meet up with her mom again before Runa’s mind is completely lost.
It’s interesting that Runa is Cam’s daughter, because according to Halverson, a mother having a daughter with that a shapeshifting ability in quite rare — typically, it skips a generation. It’s possible that Cam was once the “old June,” one that Halverson couldn’t control.
If June needs rescuing, at least Harry and John have an idea as to where she is going. But saving June might be trickier than it seems, as she desperately wants help for her unique condition — and Halverson is promising to provide.
This episode should be titled “Like Mother, Like Daughter.” There’s more than just their very special condition that connects June and Elena. It turns out, both have a weakness for the Polk men.
June heads off to Sanctum with Halverson, only to arrive and learn that her mother Elena is “not ready” to see her just yet. This does not sit well with June, and, despite Runa’s insistence, she finds Elena’s cabin and begs for a conversation.
In an effort for the show to make good use of its epic landscape, Elena and June take a rowboat out on Sanctum’s lake. June confesses to her mother that she wants to get well not just for her, but so that she can be with Harry, her great love. Elena isn’t just unhappy with her 16-year-old daughter’s declaration, she explicitly forbids June from ever seeing Harry again. In fact, according to Elena, June won’t be able to have love in her life at all.
This pisses June off, so much so that she starts the process of shifting. The lack of control over her body causes June to inadvertently fall into the water, with Elena diving in after her. In an effort to save June from drowning, Elena grabs hold of her, causing June to shift into her own mom.
Halverson takes June-as-Elena into the interrogation-esque room. Unlike other times June has shifted, June seems to embody Elena’s personality and memories as well as her physical body. It’s almost like June is no longer there at all.
That’s when June starts “remembering” things — as Elena. On the other side of the glass, Elena is freaking the eff out about this development. There is something June must not know… that Elena was way too scared to ever tell her.
So, what is this thing? It’s what Harry already knew: That Elena was the one who hurt his father, Lewis. Except, Harry doesn’t know the entire story.
Years earlier, before Elena left for Halverson’s commune, she and Lewis fell in love and embarked on an extramarital affair. Elena even stopped taking the sedatives John gave her in order to really connect with her new love. But when Elena finally decided to go “all in” and truly love Lewis the way she knew she needed to love him, it caused her to begin the shifting process. Lewis, not realizing what was happening, touched Elena. She adopted his form, and then, Elena just bailed.
Elena took Lewis’ body (who just so happened to be wearing her own dress) to a pub, where a drunk made a wisecrack about Lewis’ outfit. Elena-as-Lewis slugged him in a moment of anger, causing Elena-as-Lewis to morph into the pub goer.
Elena-as-Pub-Guy then left the bar, where she ran into another person… and adopted that body as well. Basically, this happened a bunch of times, hence the multiple seemingly unconnected people who went into comas the night that Lewis did. It all happened because a careless Elena assumed their identities without Elena ever returning to her own body first.
Apparently, that’s a particular danger of shapeshifting: You can cause the person you morph into to lose their sense of self completely if you don’t return to your original body first.
Back at home, Christine is finally putting together the pieces of what happened that night. She just can’t quite explain how, specifically, Elena hurt all those people. She does know that June has the same power, which leads Christine to send police officers to search John’s house. Ryan, who did not embark on the journey to Sanctum with John and Harry, tells Christine that she has “already lost” both June and Harry. All they want is to be together. Maybe that’s true, but we still don’t know if June will really choose Harry over her long-missing mother.
Back at Sanctum, Elena is heartbroken that June knows the truth. However, after the big reveal, June remains as “Elena” in both body and mind. It’s only when Harry finally arrives on Halverson’s island that she is able to refind herself. As he’s done several times before now, Harry reminds June who she is. After some coaxing, June finally affirms that she is, indeed, “June McDaniel.” Unfortunately for Elena, June is royally pissed off at her mom for all the lies.
Just not angry enough with her to leave. When Harry informs June that Cam told him Halverson is dangerous, June brushes him off. Halverson doesn’t know Cam, June insists. He told her as much.
Halverson tries to play nice with Harry, who isn’t exactly quiet about his distrust for the “good doctor.” He even shows him around the interrogation room, and allows him what seems like full access to everything. It’s so convincing that we start to think, “Hey, maybe Halverson isn’t so bad, after all!” Then, Halverson locks Harry in the sound-proof interrogation room, and shuts off the lights.
Yep. Halverson’s a real villain. At least now we know for sure.
He might not be the only threat at the Sanctum, though. At the end of the episode, we see Steinar purchasing rope and a hunting knife at a local store. “Going hiking?” asks the clerk. “Visiting family,” Steinar replies.
Well that's spooky.
Have you ever been so angry with the end of a season that you consider throwing your laptop across the room instead of writing the finale recap? Me either, because unlike Halverson, I can control my anger, and unlike June, I can’t shapeshift into someone else who didn’t just destroy her work laptop and now has to have a chat with human resources.
That being said, I am incredibly pissed that The Innocents decided to end its love story in the bleakest way possible. It’s downright cruel.
But first: How the end begins.
Harry is still stuck behind glass, because Halverson finally decided that it was too late in the season to play subtly evil. Even worse? He tells June that Harry decided to bail on her, and basically give her up to Halverson for testing. June doesn’t really believe it at first, because it’s her worst nightmare: That Harry would think she’s too difficult to be with and give up on her.
Isn’t that everyone’s worst nightmare, really? That the ones we love will see our problems and flaws and declare “No, thanks, I’m good?” Even though John tells June there’s no way that Halverson isn’t being shady AF about this Harry thing, June’s insecurities get the better of her. She’s committed to getting well by Halverson’s hand, without Harry — even though, she tells her mother, the goal is to get better so she can be with her one true love.
Meanwhile, Runa is seeing her daughter Cam around Sanctum — and Steinar, the man we saw readying weapons to use against Halverson and company. Runa’s behavior is increasingly erratic and, eventually, she finds herself in Halverson’s quarters… where Harry is still behind glass… and Steinar is sitting in a chair, about to play a very special home movie.
Oh, and Steinar has a shotgun on his lap. He might as well tell Halverson “Surprise, bitch. Bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.”
Instead of shooting Halverson, he plays a video. It’s an experiment, which features Cam hooked up to electric shock devices. Next to her, in a chair, is Steinar. Halverson wants to use pain to have Cam shapeshift into Steinar. He cranks up the electricity, and poor Cam gets zapped hard. Runa watches this video in horror, which I find a little odd — did she really not get what was going on here?
Now basically everyone is in the room, and Halverson has some major explaining to do. He fights the gun away from Steinar, and Sigrid lashes out against the man she has so admired. He was just using them, this entire time! A struggle between Sigrid and Halverson ends with Sigrid, bloody and dead, on the floor of Halverson’s lab.
It’s all a lot, and yet, it gets worse. So, so much worse.
Halverson takes the gun and threatens Harry’s life with it. He’s going to kill Harry, he tells June, unless she shapeshifts into Runa. That’s when his master plan, the real reason Halverson is so obsessed with June, is revealed.
Remember how June is able to access the memories of the people whom she shifts into? Halverson’s goal is to essentially combine June and Runa, so that Runa does not lose her memories to dementia. He wants to keep Runa forever, because he loves her. He’ll do anything for Runa, even though Runa doesn’t actually want him sacrificing June for her.
This is an interesting, if somewhat confusing twist. This whole time, we assumed that Halverson was throwing Runa away for a shiny new toy. The truth was, he never wanted to discard Runa — just find a way to hold onto her, as she was, forever. He may have only loved Runa for the scientific knowledge she inadvertently bestowed upon him, but it’s something Halverson didn’t want to lose. In a way, it mirrors the romance between Harry and June.
It’s Harry who encourages June to stay exactly as she is. She doesn’t shift into Runa. Instead, Runa takes the gun from Halverson… and shoots him.
Love is really complicated.
Oh, and I should probably clarify something — Steinar isn’t Steinar. Steinar is actually Cam, which makes a lot more sense considering, as June points out, Steinar helped Halverson kidnap June. He wouldn’t want to stop Halverson from experimenting on her, but Cam, the girl who lost everything thanks to Halverson’s destructive ways, most certainly would.
Runa begs Cam to stay with her at Sanctum, but Cam refuses to give her mother any more time. She loved Runa so much, once upon a time, but Runa chose to be with Halverson instead of her own daughter. Cam doesn’t even consider herself Runa’s daughter anymore — that girl is gone.
John, June, Harry, and Elena head back to town on a ferry, where Harry and June reaffirm their love for one another. It’s them against the world, baby! As they kiss on the ferry, I can’t help but think this would be a nice place for the show to end. A happy place. One that ties up loose ends neatly, that gives the lovers a pleasant conclusion to their established romantic ar, and —
— juuuuuuust kidding. Christine, Harry’s mom, arrests Elena for her crimes basically the moment they pull into June’s driveway. Let’s think about this logically: Christine believes that Elena was involved in the comatose states of five separate people, and her only evidence is… Elena’s face in a glass window? Even if Christine did understand shapeshifting, and all its specifics (eight episodes into The Innocents and I don’t, but fine), would that be enough to arrest Elena?
Harry tells June that they need to get the hell out of dodge, again. As they zip away from Christine and all the chaos, Harry accidentally slams the car into a tree.
June is badly hurt and coughing up blood in the passenger’s seat. Basically, she’s dying. That’s when Harry gets a brilliant idea to save her: Have June transfer into his body.
This is actually a decent concept, I guess, though it’s unclear if Harry intends for the switch to be permanent. The way he delivers the line “I’ll see you soon,” makes me think Harry wants to gift his body to June, possibly forever.
I just feel like calling an ambulance would have been a better plan A, but fine.
June shifts into Harry, leaving him comatose in the driver’s seat. June is alive!
At this point in the episode, I’m thinking that maybe June can get herself to a hospital, as Harry, make the shift back into her own body in the waiting room, and have doctors save her in her own body just in time. Seems like an okay plan with the potential for a happy ending for everybody, even though Harry gives no instructions to June other than “Just become me, it’s chill.”
Theeeeeen, before June-as-Harry has a chance to do anything, Christine spots the car accident and races to her son in the passenger seat. She embraces June-as-Harry, thinking he’s hurt. Unfortunately, that triggers June’s shifting. June becomes Christine, and Harry remains comatose.
This is such a problem, because as we know, Elena basically turned five people into zombies by doing this very thing. It was at this point that I screamed at my computer.
But again, because I’m an optimist who believes YA romance can conquer all things, I think that maybe the pure love between Harry and June will save Harry from a truly terrible fate.
Spoiler: I’m wrong. In what feels like a punch to the gut, June transforms back into her own body, and grabs Harry’s face. She wants to make sure he’s still there…
“I’ll see you soon,” a zombie-like Harry responds. June’s face says it all: He’s gone.
It’s a total horror movie ending, and I absolutely hate it. I refuse to believe that The Innocents is truly that cynical about love, given that the entire premise of the show thus far is that real love is being seen and accepted. To give Harry and June this dark ending suggests the show agrees with Elena’s stance on love: That June can never have it without destroying it, brutally.
Perhaps season 2 will be June’s journey back to Harry — after all, no one said love was easy. Right now, though, my heart hurts over this cruel twist of fate.